The National Lacrosse League Entry Draft is just five days away, held early this year on September 16 at Oakville’s Toronto Rock Athletic Centre. That means it’s time once again for IL Indoor’s annual adventure in prospect prognostication. We look at the Top 50 prospects who are entered in this year’s draft. It’s a difficult year to figure out how the draft may go. It appears that there are a handful of players who would be candidates for the first round in any year, then about two dozen who have the feel of second rounds. Obviously, some of the latter will jump up to the first round and some will fall to the third and even fourth round. So while this draft may not be as stoked with high-end talent as last year’s, or the ones coming in 2014 and 2015 for that matter, there are plenty of high-value picks to be had as the rounds progress. Following are IL Indoor’s picks for the 31st to 50th top prospects entering the 2013 draft.
31 – Danny Vyse – RD, Six Nations Arrows (OLA Jr A)
A 5′10”, 195-pound ball of energy, Vyse is an aggressive defender who isn’t afraid to mix it up. He makes opponents know they’re in a lacrosse game with his physical, in-your-face style. Needs to be aware of discipline—he crosses the line from aggressiveness to foolishness at times—but that’s the risk you run when you play on the edge. Vyse isn’t just a rough and tough guy, though. He scored 8 goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 11 regular season games and added another 23 points in the playoffs as he helped the Six Nations Rebels win the 2011 Founders Cup. He can run with the ball effectively. Vyse scored a couple of goals in a handful of games with CLax’s Ohsweken Demons and didn’t look out of place in the semi-pro league.
32 – Kyle Lindsay – RD Whitby Warriors (OLA Jr A)
Lindsay is a tall (6′2”), agile defender who contributed to the Warriors solid team defence in their 2011 Minto Cup win and 2012 return trip to the Minto as hosts. He chips in a few points here and there but is primarily a D-first guy. He can take faceoffs and won’t make a lot of mistakes.
33 – JJ Laforet – RD KW Kodiaks (MSL)
Laforet showed some offensive skill in his junior days. He posted 58 points, including 26 goals, with Halton Hills in Jr B and followed that up with 26- and 41-point seasons with the Jr A Brampton Excelsiors. Since then, he’s developed more into a defensive player with some hops to get out and get up the floor at times. Hasn’t played a lot of box lacrosse over the last two summers, so he’ll face a tough adjustment period at his first pro camp.
34 – Niall Caravello – LT Orangeville Northmen (OLA Jr A)
A product of the hugely successful Northmen system and a member of their 2012 Minto Cup champions, Caravello is a sound defender who will make good decisions and will push the pace when he can. Chips in about a point a game; more likely to run the ball into offensive zone and hand it off to the O guys than to drive to the net himself. Caravello won’t wow you in any one area of the game but won’t make a lot of mistakes and will bring a solid effort every time he’s on the floor.
35 – Chris Wardle – LF Victoria Shamrocks (BCJALL)
A long and lean lefty forward who finished third in the BC junior loop with 46 goals this summer. Wardle made huge strides this year, jumping from 41 points in 2012 to 90 in 2013. His challenge, as with so many slightly-built forwards, will be adjusting to playing against bigger, stronger, faster defenders who will take away many of the things he was able to do at the junior level.
36 – Davide Diruscio – G Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
After declaring early for last year’s NLL draft, Diruscio broke his leg the day before the draft itself and went undrafted. He didn’t match last year’s brilliant numbers in 2013, but he’s still a classic big-bodied goalie who has good lateral movement for someone weighing in at 300 pounds. Diruscio’s weakness is probably shots by his feet, which is no surprise for a young keeper his size. He may take a while to develop into an NLL-calibre goalie, so teams may be inclined to wait and invite him to camp as a free agent rather than drafting him, but he has the potential to become a solid pro stopper.
37 – Emerson Clark – LD Whitby Warriors (OLA Jr A)
Don’t get fooled into thinking Clark is just a tough guy. He’s definitely more than ready to drop the mitts when called for—and sometimes when it’s not called for—but Clark can play the game. He’s an aggressive, physical defender who makes opponents think twice about cutting through the middle. He also has shown some offensive chops. Warriors coach Derek Keenan liked to throw him out the front door on occasion and he did more than just throw hard picks and create space for the Whitby stars. Clark showed an affinity for the two-man game and can finish off a pick and roll.
38 – Blair Goss – LD Orangeville Northmen (OLA Jr A)
Goss was a solid contributor to the Northmen’s D unit as they won Minto Cups in 2009 and particularly in 2012. Like so many of the Northmen’s back door grads, he plays a sound defence-first game and has a good sense of when to run in transition. He showed some skill with 9 goals and 15 assists in each of 2010 and 2011. Goss stands 5′11” and weighs just under 200 pounds.
39 – Garrett MacIntosh – RD Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
A solid depth defender with the combination of size (6′3”, 220 pounds), strength and speed to compete hard on every shift. Came up through the Coquitlam system and won a Minto with the Adanacs in 2010, so he is well versed in a team approach to the defensive end of the floor combined with a readiness to take off when the chance to push the pace arises.
40 – Eric Crepinsek – LD Burlington Chiefs (OLA Jr A)
Crepinsek isn’t the shut down defender that his older brother Alex, drafted 10th overall by Minnesota last year, is. But not many people are. Eric, though, is in the same mold: defensively sound and responsible, ready to chip in on the transition game on occasion. The 6′, 170-pounder will need to add some size and strength to compete against the best in the world but footwork and lacrosse IQ will still be his greatest assets.
41 – Luke Laidlaw – LF Halton Hills Bulldogs (OLA Jr B)
Laidlaw, one of a handful of Bulldogs Laidlaws (he’s a cousin to four brothers who have played for the team recently), had a huge season in 2012, scoring 43 goals and 71 assists for 114 points to finish third in the OLA Jr B league. His less statistically impressive season this summer may actually bode better for the future in the game of this undersized but talented and resilient forward. He ceded the spotlight to his cousin Seth, who almost duplicated Luke’s previous season with 39 goals and 74 assists, and some other talented lefties on the roster. Luke, meanwhile, played in transition for much of the season and still scored 25 times and added 38 assists in a complementary role. That is exactly the kind of versatility and adaptability that could help him to make it at the next level of lacrosse.
42 – Eric Penney – G St. Catharines Athletics (OLA Jr A)
It can be hard to tell how good a goalie is when he’s playing behind a bad team. The Athletics lost 31 games over the last two seasons and gave up a lot of goals in the process. Penney suffered the lion’s share of those losses and gave up the majority of the goals, but he was one of the bright spots in a couple of dismal seasons in St. Kitts. Penney played surprisingly consistently given how sketchy the defence in front of him was and generally didn’t seem to let the losing rattle him and cause major lapses in concentration. He’s a long shot to make it in the NLL but is worth taking a look at.
43 – Zac Reid – RD St. Catharines Athletics (OLA Jr A)
Reid’s calling card is versatility. He was a solid defender with the Athletics but a high-scoring middie at Mercyhurst University. Reid scored 29 goals and 14 assists in his senior year and was named All-ECAC. He scored 7 goals in an NCAA tournament semi-final this year, tying a record, and he helped the Lakers to win a national championship in 2011.
44 – Jeff Swift – LF Peterborough Lakers (OLA Jr A)
Swift had four straight seasons of between 39 and 49 points for the Lakers. He’s fairly quick, is a fairly good shooter and a fairly good passer. He’s a solid depth forward at the Jr A level. That doesn’t generally equate to a roster spot in a nine-team NLL, especially with the rosters likely being reduced by a few players this winter. It will be hard for him to make a team’s active roster, but he’s a good enough player that someone will likely draft him and keep an eye out to see how he develops over the next few years.
45 – Erik McLaren – G Kitchener-Waterloo Braves (OLA Jr A)
McLaren has faced a ton of rubber over the last few years with the Braves, playing in a total of 52 games, posting a record of 17-28-2. He’s a touch on the small side but has good instincts and moves reasonably well in the net.
46 – Todd Kozak – LF Brampton Excelsiors (MSL)
Posted 75 goals and 105 assists in 95 Jr A games with Mississauga and Burlington, peaking with a 21/30/51 season in 2010. This past summer, he spent 14 games with the Major Excelsiors, scoring 3 goals and 2 assists. The numbers weren’t eye-catching but he showed flashes of shiftiness and a decent shot, and he moves well on the floor.
47 – Jo Jo Marasco – LF Syracuse University
It seems like every year there’s a handful of highly talented Americans keen to get into the National Lacrosse League. And every year it’s a bit of a crap shoot how well they’ll be able to adjust to the indoor game. If there is a bit of a box background to look at, that can help make an educated guess. For Marasco, that box background is an 11-game stretch with the Toronto Beaches in the summer of 2012. It’s not much to go on and he didn’t do much to write home about. Marasco scored 3 goals and 12 assists, not exactly lighting it up. So instead, we have to look at a mid-sized midfielder who plays primarily a perimeter game. That doesn’t bode well for an adaptation to indoor lacrosse at the NLL level. What tempers the pessimism is that Marasco has brilliant vision and an exquisite sense of timing, making him an outstanding passer. He’ll just have to prove that he can shoot on the smaller nets and make his passes in confined spaces while being chased by big men who wish him ill.
48 – Dylan Goddard – LF Clarington Green Gaels (OLA Jr B)
The ultimate point in a game of lacrosse is to put the ball in the other team’s net more often than they put it in yours. So when someone is particularly adept at putting the ball into the other team’s net or helping teammates to do so, he is a valuable part of a team. Dylan Goddard has been remarkably consistent at producing points for the Green Gaels. Look up a Gaels scoring record and Goddard probably owns it. He’s scored 125, 123 and 120 points in the last three seasons. The reason he’s not higher on the list is that he’s only played four Jr A games in his career. It’s just difficult to say how immense success in Jr B will translate to the professional game. Recent Jr B star Brett Hickey has had some success with the Stealth and was a WLA second team all-star this summer, so there is a current precedent. Goddard may or may not be able to take the step to the pros, but some team will be willing to gamble a late pick because scoring is a talent you just can’t teach.
49 – Steven Neufeld – RF Coquitlam Adanacs (BCJALL)
Speaking of gambling a late pick, that is what someone will do with Neufeld. He’s a project…a biiiiiig project. The 6′8”, 270-pounder has only recently shifted to the forward position and it’s not clear how his game will translate to the pros. He scored 26 goals and 14 assists for 40 points in 17 regular season games. Those aren’t bad numbers and suggest he could have some potential. It’s his playoff run that will have some scouts excited about what could be. Neufeld went 14/15/29 to lead the BCJALL in playoff scoring over 8 games. The sample size is small, which makes it hard to project how he’ll perform. But a huge forward with some skill is a tempting prospect.
50 – Richard Lachlan – RF Port Coquitlam Saints (BCJALL)
Lachlan has size on his side, being 6′2” and 195 pounds and he scored 40 points (18g, 22a) in Jr A this summer. He played 7 games with Tri City of the BC Sr B league in 2012 and had good results, totalling 29 points.
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